Tour Down Under: A Beginner’s Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia
Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Planning Your Route Through the Land Down Under
One of the best parts of a campervan road trip through Australia is being able to customize your route and make plenty of stops along the way. With some strategic planning, you can maximize your time on the open road and hit all the spots on your Aussie bucket list.
First, think about the key destinations and landmarks you want to see. Australia is massive, so be realistic about how much ground you can cover in your time frame. Popular stops like Sydney, Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Uluru, and the Great Barrier Reef are musts for many road trippers. Plot out a route that incorporates your top sights efficiently.
Leave room for flexibility and detours. Part of a campervan trip's appeal is the freedom to change course spontaneously. Don't overschedule yourself or you'll miss out on unexpected gems. Talk to other travelers and locals to get tips on lesser-known places worth a visit. Meandering backroads can lead you to hidden waterfalls, secluded beaches, quirky roadside attractions, and more.
Consider the time of year and weather patterns. In Australia's Outback and northern tropical regions, the summer heat can be intense. The winter months bring more moderate temperatures suitable for camping, but you'll encounter more crowds. If possible, travel during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn for pleasant weather without peak crowds.
Think about the types of landscapes and experiences you want. Australia has incredible diversity, from rugged Red Center deserts to tropical Queensland rainforests to the vineyards of South Australia. Focus on a region or two rather than racing through everything. Immerse yourself in the vibe and adventures of each area.
Leave wiggle room for road conditions and closures. Parts of Australia see heavy rainfall during certain seasons. Road washouts can occur, so have backup routes planned. Some routes may close entirely during wildfire season. Check for alerts before setting out.
Download offline maps and apps to stay on track when cell service is spotty. Gauge driving times carefully as distances can be deceiving on Aussie roads. Carry extra fuel and supplies for remote legs. Always inform someone of your route and check in periodically for safety.
What else is in this post?
- Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Planning Your Route Through the Land Down Under
- Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Picking the Perfect Campervan for Your Needs
- Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Road Trip Essentials - What to Pack
- Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Where to Stop for Scenic Views and Photo Ops
- Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Top National Parks and Nature Reserves to Explore
- Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Hitting the Road - Campervan Driving Tips
- Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Cooking on the Go - Meals and Snacks for Campers
- Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Best Times of Year for an Aussie Road Trip
Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Picking the Perfect Campervan for Your Needs
Choosing the right campervan is absolutely crucial for an epic Australian road trip. The vehicle you select can make or break your experience out on the open road. I've talked to scores of campervan road trippers over the years, and they all agree - take time to carefully consider your needs and research your options before booking a rig. Don't just grab the first cheap campervan you find online.
The most important factors are size, amenities, drivability, and insurance coverage. Consider the number of travelers in your group and how much space you'll need for a comfortable journey. Couples and solo road trippers can get by in more compact, economical campervans. Groups of four or more will need something larger with extra beds and storage. Families should look for family-friendly features like bunk beds.
Think about must-have amenities that will make road life pleasant. Running water, a fridge, stove, heater, and bathroom are basics. Nice extras include hot showers, air conditioning, lots of power outlets, and audio/Bluetooth connectivity. Off-road campers excel at rugged terrain but sacrifice comfort. Carefully weigh priorities like fuel economy and ease of handling against desired features.
Research the reputation of different rental companies, especially regarding breakdowns. Nothing ruins a road trip faster than a faulty rig. Look for newer models with low kilometers. Thoroughly inspect condition at pickup and test drive first. Don't set out in a camper you don't trust. Always confirm insurance details and consider supplemental coverage for peace of mind.
Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Road Trip Essentials - What to Pack
Now that you’ve got your campervan sorted, it’s time to think about what to bring along for the journey. Packing smart for a campervan trip is an art – you need to anticipate needs without going overboard. Lugging around a ton of unnecessary gear wastes fuel and cramped campervan space. I've made every rookie packing mistake over the years, but through experience have dialed in the road trip essentials every campervan traveler needs.
First and foremost, stock up on food, water, and cooking supplies. Having nutritious snacks and ingredients on hand saves money on eating out and avoids running out of gas to find a grocery store. Bring a camping stove, pots, pans, plates, cutlery, a cutting board, can/bottle opener, matches, paper towels, trash bags, and anything else you'll need to prepare meals. Meal planning tips later in this guide!
Don't forget basic safety and repair equipment. Every campervan should have flashlights, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, jumper cables, jack and spare tire, tire pressure gauge, basic tools, duct tape, and zip ties. A GPS device and maps are absolutely essential for navigation, along with walkie talkies or similar devices to stay in touch if traveling in separate vehicles.
Make sure to pack plenty of blankets, pillows, towels and extra bedding for comfort. Portable camping chairs are great for relaxing outside and avoiding dirt. A small folding table comes in handy for food prep, playing cards, etc. Hygiene basics like biodegradable soap, toilet paper, sunscreen and insect repellent are musts. Quick-dry camping towels and clothing simplify laundry.
Electronics like cameras, laptops, and chargers will likely be part of your gear. Bring along a battery pack for off-grid recharging. A Bluetooth speaker adds ambiance to evenings under the stars. Pack games, books, journals, and other entertainment to pass time on long drives or rainy days.
Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Where to Stop for Scenic Views and Photo Ops
One of the best parts of touring Australia by campervan is being able to stop whenever and wherever you please to soak in those iconic Aussie views. With a little research and planning, you can discover incredible scenic outlooks all around the Land Down Under. I’ve spoken to scores of avid campervaners over the years and they all agree – build in plenty of time for meandering, detours, and impromptu photo sessions. Rushing from place to place leads to regrets down the road.
The Great Ocean Road in Victoria offers some of the most spectacular coastal scenery you’ll encounter. Don’t just breeze by – take time to stop at places like Gibson Steps, London Bridge, the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, and Bay of Martyrs to fully experience the grandeur. Set up your tripod, play with angles, and snap away to your heart’s content. For stunning aerial perspectives, take a helicopter tour from Port Campbell.
In New South Wales, campervaners rave about the views along the Sea Cliff Bridge near Wollongong with its winding path above sheer cliffs. Stop at one of the designated lookouts for perfect pics. Further inland, find a quiet spot to watch the sunset over the sandstone domes of Mungo National Park – it’s an incredible sight.
Up north in Queensland, pull over for the multi-hued sands of Rainbow Beach before continuing on to Fraser Island for dingo-spotting and rainforest hikes leading to gorgeous panoramas. Don’t miss the iconic pier shot at the town of 1770 either. Western Australia’s Margaret River area combines awesome surf beaches with vineyards and limestone caves. Meander down Caves Road stopping to photograph this natural beauty.
In the Outback, Uluru and Kata Tjuta never fail to impress at sunrise or sunset when the rocks glow red. Photography buffs rave about the immense salt flat landscapes of Lake Eyre. Use creative angles and leading lines to make the emptiness eye-catching. When driving between destinations, having a passenger scanning the horizon for potential shots helps you capitalize on impromptu wow moments.
Many seasoned campervaners advise spending more time in Tasmania. The rugged eastern coastline yields views comparable to the Great Ocean Road, especially around Freycinet National Park. Prop up your camera for the perfect lighthouse shot at Cape Naturaliste. Even just pulling down a side road to capture rolling farmlands can result in postcard-worthy images.
Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Top National Parks and Nature Reserves to Explore
No Aussie road trip is complete without venturing into some of the country’s incredible national parks and nature reserves. These protected areas allow you to experience the diversity of landscapes and wildlife that makes Australia so special. I’ve spoken with veteran campervan travelers who all say the same thing – don’t just drive straight through without stopping! Schedule ample time to explore must-see parks along your route.
Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory tops many campervaners’ lists. Here you can cool off at thundering Jim Jim and Twin Falls, then learn about Aboriginal rock art at sites like Ubirr and Nourlangie. Witness native birds and crocodiles along the Yellow Water Billabong cruises. Kakadu is especially magnificent in the wet season when lush greenery springs to life.
In Queensland, Daintree National Park mixes rainforest with beautiful beaches. Go birdwatching for cassowaries, hike to swimming holes, and walk among ancient fan palms. The diverse habitats support over 3,000 plant species for you to photograph. Nearby Cape Tribulation is another gem where forest meets reef.
Down south in Tasmania, campervaners recommend Freycinet National Park for its dramatic coastal scenery of pink granite mountains plunging into the Tasman Sea. Hike up to the Wineglass Bay lookout for stunning panoramas. Spot fur seals, dolphins, and migrating whales offshore. Discover hidden coves only reachable by sea kayak.
For a true Australian Outback experience, make sure to visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Nothing compares to seeing the immense red monoliths rising from the desert. Experience Aboriginal culture during guided walks and activities. Catch the rocks at sunrise and sunset when they glow fiery orange and red.
In South Australia, Flinders Ranges National Park serves up rugged peaks and Aboriginal rock art. Hike remote gorges to spot yellow-footed rock wallabies. The Heysen Trail through the Flinders delivers nonstop Outback eye candy for avid campervan photographers.
Western Australia’s Purnululu National Park is home to the iconic Bungle Bungle Range with its striped orange and black domes. A scenic flight over these unique landmarks is a bucket list item for many campervaners. On the ground, explore Echidna Chasm and Cathedral Gorge.
Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Hitting the Road - Campervan Driving Tips
Driving a campervan through Australia requires some specialized skills and knowledge. Don’t just hop behind the wheel and assume it’s like handling an everyday car or RV. I’ve chatted with many first-time campervaners over the years, and they unanimously agree – take time to get educated on smart campervan driving techniques before embarking on your Aussie adventure. The open road is no place for on-the-job training. A few key tips can make your travel much safer and more enjoyable.
First and foremost, understand that campervans handle very differently than cars. They are much larger and slower to accelerate, decelerate, and turn. Give yourself extra time and space for maneuvers. It takes practice to judge your width and length when parking and navigating tight spots. Take it slow until you get a feel for your specific campervan. Confirm all mirrors are properly adjusted to minimize blind spots.
Driving conditions “down under” can be very different too. Remote Outback tracks demand serious defensive driving skills. Livestock, kangaroos, and other wildlife often graze roadsides. Drop-offs and water crossings are common. Allow for skids and slides on loose gravel. Carry emergency gear for breakdowns in isolated areas. Off-road campervans excel on rough terrain but require advanced driving proficiency.
Always be prepared for sudden weather changes when driving. Carry chains during winter months for mountain passes. torrential downpours and flooding can instantly reduce visibility and cause hydroplaning. High winds are notorious for blowing campervans about – keep a firm grip on the wheel. If conditions get too severe, pull over at a rest area and wait it out.
Practice reversing early on since you’ll need to back into many campsites. Recruit a travel buddy to help guide you until you’ve mastered this essential skill. Take it slowly to avoid costly accidents. Don’t let ego lead to jackknifing disasters that ruin your entire trip. Some drivers simply aren’t cut out for campervan piloting – know your limits and switch drivers rather than risking damage.
Pay close attention to speed limits, which vary on different road types. Campervans guzzle fuel, so resist the urge to leadfoot. Cruise along at moderate speeds while enjoying the scenery. Calculate fuel needs carefully when traveling remote routes. Carry jerry cans and maps showing petrol stops to avoid stranding your group. Always keep the tank at least half full.
Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Cooking on the Go - Meals and Snacks for Campers
Eating well is essential on a campervan road trip, but cooking in a tiny mobile kitchen presents challenges. Through trial and error over countless kilometers, veteran campervaners have discovered the keys to whipping up satisfying, nourishing meals on the road. I’ve spoken with scores of road warriors and they all agree—with some strategic meal planning and the right gear, you can eat like a king rather than surviving on pathetic roadside takeaway.
Start by gathering camping-friendly recipes and planning weekly menus. Include all necessary ingredients on your provisioning list. Resist the urge to just “wing it”—advanced thought takes the stress out of camper cooking. Focus on one-pot meals, wraps, sandwiches, salads, and pasta for simplicity. Sear, sauté, or grill proteins first, then throw everything together. Hearty stews, chilies, and curries make excellent campervan meals with leftover potential.
Bring along a dual-burner propane stove for maximum cooking flexibility. A cast iron grill pan allows easy outdoor BBQ. Quality pots and pans hold up to frequent use while camping cutlery enables civilized dining. Storage containers keep ingredients fresh and prevent spills. A cutting board and chef's knife minimize required workspace. Portable sink basins simplify cleanup.
Make the most of perishables in the first stretch of your journey, switching to canned and dried items later. Supplement meals with nuts, seeds, dried fruit, oats, and other non-perishable superfoods. Canned tuna, beans, and veggies provide nutrition anywhere. Bring along a cooler and ice for the first days.
When road tripping off-grid, know where to resupply on groceries. Farm stands and markets offer fresh local produce en route. Grocery delivery services can send essentials to campgrounds ahead. Pack a fishing rod—nothing beats campfire shore lunch from a fresh catch.
Satisfying snacks keep energy and spirits up during long days behind the wheel. Trail mixes, protein or granola bars, apples and peanut butter provide quick nutrition. Stock cookies, chips, and other comfort foods but go easy—campervan living leads to accelerated waist expansion. Brew coffee or tea anytime with a portable press, mugs and insulators.
Tour Down Under: A Beginner's Guide to Campervan Road Trips in Australia - Best Times of Year for an Aussie Road Trip
Determining the optimal time for an Australian road trip requires balancing weather, crowds, activities, and budgets. Through years of campervaning on every highway and dirt track across Oz, I’ve discovered that shoulder seasons - spring and autumn - truly deliver peak Aussie road-tripping. The key is dodging extremes in temperatures, downpours, and tourist hordes without sacrificing access to attractions. Savvy wanderers take advantage of shoulder season deals, comfortable conditions, and lesser crowds.
By September, brutally hot Outback and tropical summers give way to pleasant temps ideal for camping and exploring. Northern icons like Kakadu reopen after ‘the Wet’ closures, sans monsoonal downpours. Whale watching ramps up along eastern shores. Wildflowers bloom in WA and peaking fall foliage paints Tasmania. With kids back in school, campsites fill at a relaxed pace. Prices dip from peak rates but most tours, activities, and sites remain open.
Autumn brings similar perks. Northern regions dry out by April, creating perfect 4WD and hiking weather. Snow transforms alpine scenes without bitter cold. Vibrant red and orange hues emerge in vine regions. Beach towns buzz with food and arts festivals before shutting down for winter. Tourism wanes, yielding a sense of discovery and space. Airfares, rental rates and other deals surface to lure travelers.
Beyond climate, avoiding holiday peaks maximizes trip enjoyment. Easter break unleashes fierce camper crowds and site shortages. School summer vacations stretch patience with long lines and booking struggles. Events like V8 Supercars race or Schoolies week overload locales. Scheduling a few weeks before or after peak periods provides breathing room.